Monday, May 10, 2010

The Land of Zzzzzzs

Sleep.  It is so incredibly important.  Yet, so many of us do not get enough of it.  Not only do we spend our days, but we also spend our nights, attached to Blackberries, computers, ipods, televisions, DVDs, iphones, and so on.  We are constantly easy to reach, text, call, e-mail, and instant message.  We are constantly in demand, and we are running on empty. Unlike any other generation before us, we can be contacted 24 hours a day, by anyone, from anywhere. Even if we try to tone it down and turn off the gadgets, the world is never too far from our fingertips.  This constant communication is hurting our sleep patterns, and that, in turn is harming our health.

The perfect amount of sleep that each of us should aim for is 7-8 hours a night.  The most sound sleep comes in surroundings that are cool (but not cold - around 62 degrees), completely dark (even free from the small blue lights of our gadgets and gizmos as they recharge), and totally quiet.  If you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep, lie in bed and try to quiet your mind with deep, slow breaths.  If 30 minutes have passed and your deep breathing has not gotten you anywhere, get up, read a book or a magazine or have some herbal tea, but try not to over-stimulate your mind. Avoiding computers and TVs can be helpful.  I have noticed that sometimes, if I give into the fact I am having trouble sleeping and just accept it, rather than lie there trying to fight it or be angry about it, I get tired again an hour or so later and climb back into bed.

Our bodies do a lot of work while we are sleeping, particularly between the hours of 11:00 pm to 2:00 am.  Our biorythms change, our cells regenerate, our digestive process prepares us for morning, and we rebuild our immunity.  Getting enough sleep is really critical to good health.  My husband and I need a full 8 hours to operate at our best, even 9.  We love our sleep.  Going to bed consistently around the same time and waking around the same time are best for the body.  Try to consciously aim to get to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. You might surprise yourself with how much more energy you feel, how much less food you want, and how much more relaxed you approach life when you have had a full night's sleep.  Your mind and your body will thank you.